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Preexisting Tinnitus May Be Exacerbated by COVID-19

Tinnitus exacerbated for those self-isolating, feeling lonely, sleeping poorly, exercising less

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MONDAY, Nov. 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Preexisting tinnitus may be exacerbated by COVID-19, although more than half of patients experience no change in symptoms, according to a study published online Nov. 5 in Frontiers in Public Health.

Eldré W. Beukes, Ph.D., from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and colleagues conducted a mixed-methods exploratory cross-sectional study using data collected via online survey from 3,103 individuals with tinnitus from 48 countries (49 percent from North America; 47 percent from Europe).

The researchers found that seven individuals reported that having COVID-19 initiated tinnitus. In 40 percent of respondents, having COVID-19 symptoms exacerbated tinnitus, while there was no change and improvement for 54 and 6 percent, respectively. For 32 percent of the respondents, social and emotional consequences of the pandemic made preexisting tinnitus more bothersome, especially for women and younger adults; these consequences made preexisting tinnitus better for 1 percent and caused no change in 67 percent. For those self-isolating, experiencing loneliness, sleeping poorly, and with reduced levels of exercise, preexisting tinnitus was significantly exacerbated. Significant contributions to tinnitus being more bothersome during the pandemic period were seen for increased depression, anxiety, irritability, and financial worries.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic may remain for the foreseeable future, the health, social, and emotional implications are likely to continue for some time," the authors write. "Ways of supporting those experiencing the most profound effects, such as individuals who are socially isolated, should be prioritized by patient organizations and support services."

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